Ladies and gentlemen, I have a confession to make.
I really loved this episode. After "Duets," it might be favorite of the season. Was I expecting this? Not at all. But nonetheless, "Silly Love Songs" worked its way into my heart fairly easily. Let's break it down, shall we?
"Silly Love Songs," written by Ryan Murphy and directed by Tate Donovan.
I won't lie; a Glee Valentine's Day episode had me nervous. This show swaps romantic partners more frequently than Emma Pillsbury washes her hands. What on earth would a Valentine's episode bring us? I was scared - especially when the show referenced its own "love pentagon" before the episode even began.
But truthfully, I was rather impressed with it. Each of the relationships presented was progressed purposefully and effectively, and much of what went down either interested me, intrigued me, or just flat-out made me laugh - in a good way.
How much do I love Puck and Lauren? These two have officially won my heart. I love that the writers decided to turn their dynamic on its ear. Even though it was Lauren who initiated the interest, she was not impressed by Puckzilla. She can't get those three minutes back! So now it's Puck who's doing the pursuing. How great is that? And can we get a round of applause for Lauren Zizes? She is quickly becoming the show's ultimate truth-teller. She was honest with Puck, but not cruel. She was vulnerable, self-confident, hilarious, and intelligent. The writers did a great job making her a three-dimensional character. And seeing Puck be so earnest and engaged in anything that's not criminal activity is just darling.
More than that, their storyline was handled so charmingly. It made me sad that she stood him up and that he made out with that waitress with Daddy Issues, but I totally understand why things happened that way. I love that Lauren wants something serious and communicated that. And that Puck is willing to step up! Their interactions in the last scene at Breadstix were so adorable. Oh, swoon. I am officially hanging on their every action.
Another couple to get some attention tonight were Kurt and Blaine. I have to say, the one thing that has kept me from being truly engaged in the Kurt/Blaine storyline is the fact that Blaine has been pretty two-dimensional. We saw him only through Kurt's eyes - as a private school stud, only the object of our affections. Well, that changed tonight, and I loved it.
Of course, Blaine having a crush that he didn't identify at first made me immediately suspicious of the fact that it wasn't Kurt. And it wasn't - which, I maintain, was a good thing. How boring would it be if Kurt liked Blaine and then Blaine liked Kurt and then they sang about it and everybody was happy? It'd be damn cute, but it's certainly more interesting to have Blaine's eye on someone else - even if that boy's hair was questionably coiffed.
Essentially, "Silly Love Songs" took Blaine and made him Kurt for an episode. He was hopelessly devoted to the idea of serenading the object of his affection, and wasn't really aware of the potentially embarrassing social implications. It was darling to see Blaine so insecure, and it was even more darling to see him admit it to Kurt. I love when Glee pulls the rug out from under us and acknowledges the fact that singing to people is not always a realistic solution. They do live in Ohio, after all, and I've loved every moment that the show has reminded us of that. (Remember the "Sectionals" judging panel and how much they didn't give a crap? Love it.) But most of all, I love that Kurt was honest with Blaine about his own feelings, without being obsessive about the situation. I am officially on board with their dynamic and am curious to see what will happen next.
Okay, we're rounding the corner into the areas where I'm not quite as quick to get all gushy: addressing the issue of Finn and Quinn, and Santana. These three were provided a lot of material this episode, and I'm on the fence with how a lot of it was carried out.
Of course, I was bracing myself for the rekindling of the Finn/Quinn romance. I was not on board with how it played out in last week's episode, and I feared that their dynamic would match it this week. The reality of the situation? Well, I'm torn. To be honest, I found the scene in the auditorium fascinating. Finn and Quinn having a conversation about the definitions and implications of cheating? Enthralled, party of one!
And I love even more that Quinn is not quite getting dragged through the mud here. She's not delusional about the situation - unlike Finn, I would say. She pointed out to him the double standard about Finn's previous history with being cheated on, and questioned the somewhat naive (in my opinion) idea that loving someone stops you from cheating. Even though I may grouse sometimes about the material Quinn's given, I must stop and be grateful for the fact that she's turned out to be something of an old soul. She was looking at records in this episode! And she's intelligent and a bit world-weary and she usually knows what's up. I was relieved to see that "Silly Love Songs" didn't take that away from her.
As for Finn, well... I go around and around on this debate. I think a reconnection with Quinn is an interesting development to explore. The idea that these two are communicating in something of an adult way about the nature of love and relationships piques my interest. There's a lot of things these two should be saying to each other about their past. But the only word I can use to describe the execution is... confused. The writers are making Finn confused, which I think makes the writers confused, which in turn makes me confused. It's frustrating. I don't really jive with Finn's self-congratulation about the football triumph (and clearly, Mercedes doesn't either - ha!) and I'm not sure what the show was trying to prove with their sappy piano-music moment where Finn gave Rachel her leftover Christmas (not Hanukkah) present, or with his silence when asked if he felt fireworks when kissing Rachel.
I also feel the need to address Santana's participation in this episode, and the question of concept vs. execution. I think, in general, the writers have the right idea with Santana. While Mercedes showed that she's okay not having a significant other (go girl!), I think Santana is perhaps secretly the opposite. It's not necessarily that Santana wants a boyfriend or girlfriend, but I think she desperately wants to be loved. Hell if she's going to admit it, but I think it's true. Highlighting her destructive behavior in the Valentine's Day episode is not a coincidence. Ms. Lopez has issues of self-worth and being loved, and I love that about her. It seems clear to me that the writers know that - most of the time.
But I'm not sure they're developing it in the best way possible. They're trying to move Santana forward by having the other characters bring her down a peg, and having her desperately make attempts at ruining other people's relationships. I don't think either is really necessary. I don't think the group lashing out at Santana was unjustified, nor do I think it out of character that Santana would try to ruin Puck and Lauren and Finn and Quinn. But I do think the writers needed to add a scene to make it all cohesive.
To paraphrase Blaine from earlier in this episode - I think we need to get Santana alone. And not with Brittany, as much as I love to see them together. Santana needs to be treated with an ounce of empathy, and I don't think the over-the-top sobbing-in-the-hallway scene quite cut the mustard. Every moment with Santana, including that scene, was played for comedy, when in reality it should have been a little more balanced. I wanted a scene where we see a vulnerable, honest Santana, where we might get a glimpse into what's going on underneath her armor. I want it to be abundantly clear that Santana Lopez wants more than anything to be loved, even if she'll never admit it. I don't care of she cries in a mirror a la Rachel Berry - it would make me feel a solid ton of sympathy for her, and that's important. I don't think the writers are correct in the assessment that Santana just likes to tell people when they suck.
Santana has some serious, deep-seated issues with self-worth. And what better way to lash out at love than to destroy it in others? The writers have danced around this interpretation (see: boob job) and I think that if they just confronted it directly, the character and the show would be much better for it. Santana doesn't have to stop being a bitch. But we have to understand why she is, and bonus points if the other characters on the show make the effort to do the same. That little bit of empathy is really what is lacking in Santana's current development, and the sooner we get Santana alone, the sooner we'll achieve that.
Even despite that little puzzle piece missing, I really loved this episode. Even the peripheral interactions were spectacular. Can I give Tina Cohen-Chang the biggest hug in the world for cry-singing "My Funny Valentine?" Oh, my goodness. I couldn't stop laughing. And Mike and Artie doing "PYT" was nothing short of awesome. I'm fairly certain Harry Shum Jr. and Kevin McHale were designed to team up and sing/dance Michael Jackson. Although - quibble alert! - I don't think it should have been in slow-motion. Bet Kevin had a fun time trying to lip-sync in slow-motion when they were shooting it. I just don't think it was necessary to go all slow for the entire part in the hallway. But that's a tiny directing complaint. (I'm also going to take this moment to file a quibble about the actual fireworks they showed when Finn and Quinn kissed. Necessary? Eh.)
And, I truly, truly hope that The Original Rachel Berry is back for good. I don't like seeing her fawning over a relationship - any relationship. I think Rachel Berry/Bedazzled Hairbrush/Mirror might be my OT3. And how much did I love that she had friends this episode? Oh, the sleepover scene was a thing of beauty. Mercedes delivered some kickass truths to Rachel and Kurt about being boy-crazy, and then they snuggled. Perfection. Almost as perfect as Santana using the phrases, "A'fores I end you," and "That's a capital idea!" Oh, and her joke about her mono becoming stereo! Oh my goodness. A verbally adroit Santana Lopez wins my heart 10 out of 10 times.
All in all, I really enjoyed this episode. The dialogue was sharp, witty, and honest. The major developments happened naturally, and they all were anchored in character interactions. That's all I ever really want when I watch Glee. Well, that, and good musical numbers. And dance numbers. Okay fine; I'm really greedy when it comes to this show. But I know that the show is capable of these things, despite some of their more recent efforts, and I'm so happy that "Silly Love Songs" delivered.
The RBI Report Card...
Musical Numbers: A
Dance Numbers: A
Episode MVP: Lauren Zizes.